Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Where has Cookie been?

Where indeed?  More importantly, Where is Cookie going?

Cookie has been at home running a bed and breakfast for the past two weeks, as we have entertained dear friends from back home in Ohio.  But the stress of being everyone's "Hazel" has gotten to me.  And they are so demanding:

Friend: We've had a great time, but not a mint on our pillows?
Cookie: Since you're staying for free, can I have Kevin drop his version of a tootsie roll on your pillow. 

They were not amused.  But I tell you reader: I give and I give and I give and I give and I think of Norma, And then I give some more.

And what is left for Cookie who after giving so much is just a hollow shell of himself?

I need rest.

I need to see something different.

Hell, I need to be pampered!

So I am throwing this puppy into top gear and blowing this Popsicle stand for a caprice. Not a Caprice, Norma, just a caprice.

Stayed tuned for updates, some of which are promised to be shocking.   OK, not so much shocking as they will be updates.  Me promises you.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My True Story

Cookie has, knock wood, been blessed with good health.  Things have been - diverticulitis aside - quickly treatable.  Gall bladder - ZAP!  Cataracts - ZAP!

However, yesterday I went to the doctor for a horrible allergy reaction that I have been having - everything in Maryland is coated with a yellow film of pollen causing me to wheeze  sneeze and cough - and he noticed that my blood pressure was high.

My Columbus doctor and I used to joke that my blood pressure was so low - 90 over 70 - that I was ten points from Coma.

But the readings - and he did three of them - were very high: 150 over 90.

I normally take anything the doctors say in stride, but this got to me.

Rather than throw me on meds, he instead told me to go buy a home monitor and take the reading daily for six weeks.

"And go for a long walk and cut the salt out of your diet and relax."

So yesterday I napped and retook the BP using the monitor and it came back at 140 over 90.  STILL too high.

So we'll see the doctor in mid June and we'll see.  I'm not ready to be a "hypertension" patient.  But I am worried and I am making some changes.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Shocked at how much I loved Patricia Volk's SHOCKED

Audrey Volk and her mother

Cookie has been reading the Memoir SHOCKED by Patricia Volk (2013, Alfred Knopf, 26.95), and I have to tell you that it's one of the best written books I have come across in a long time.  I could not put it down.

Volk's book juxtaposes a look at her own mother, Audrey Volk, against that of fashion designer (and trail blazer) Elsa Schiaperelli.  The common thread is that Audrey Volk is obsessed at looking her best and when a copy of Schaperelli's own autobiography "Shocking Life" falls into the hands of a ten year old Patricia, it launches Patricia on a life altering path that questions what is "beauty" and at what cost, as well her own study of her mother's life and how it is built around her own beauty.

I really recommend this book, especially for those of us who have tried to understand our mothers.  While you may not see your mother in Audrey Volk, you will most certainly appreciate the author's insights. 

And I can see this becoming a movie, a la Julie and Julie with Streep as Elsa Schaperelli herself. 

Your Daily Dose of Dysfunction: Amy's Baking Company

For those of you who have never watched Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares and live in cave, but have terrific internet access, this show is all about someone abrasive but talented going into a restaurant that is totally dysfunctional and trying to make it function as it should.

Its one of the few "reality" shows I enjoy because we've been to one of the restaurants (Hon Cafe) featured on the show and the food was absolutely mindblowingly delicious.

In his sixth season though, Gordon Ramsey meets a restaurant co-owner and chef, that would be Amy of Amy's Baking Company who is either the worlds best actress, or someone who needs a "different type of help" that Ramsey is not licensed to provide.

If you haven't seen this episode of "episodes" here are the two halves and the atypical ending.   They are worth watching.

I have my opinions, but I also have a sliver of compassion for folks like Amy because they are unable to see in themselves what everyone around them can see or experience, and they tend to blame everyone and everything thing around them for whatever happens to them.   People like Amy simply wear people down and the only energy anyone has walking away from this perfect storm is to say "What a total asshole."

Unfortunately, Amy will never be able to comprehend her behavior and the dust up it has caused on the Internet as everyone from Facebook, to YELP to REDDIT to even Forbes to take a stab at her and her behaviors on and off line.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Mother insisted that we not send her cards on Mother's Day

My Mother never enjoyed getting cards on Mother's Day because Hallmark never made a card that that simply said "Have a happy Mother's Day".  In fact, neither did American Greetings or Gibson Greetings for that matter.

Since the card industry created this "holiday" - and is it really, I mean who gets "Mother's Day" off from work, or even gets the Monday following Mother's Day as Mother's Day Observed - they have been been laying on thicker and thicker every year.

The cards today say every over the top the sentiment imaginable.  Most seem to have the subtext of "Oh MOTHER, from thy loins I lept!" while others seem to go other other direction with verse that borders on Oedipal love and card verse in an over the top script that borders on font sex.

We were a dysfunctional non-demonstrative family, so choosing a card for her was a real pain.  Not because I didn't care, but none of them were simple enough.  With all that manufactured drama, it seemed insincere, and on her end it must have been as equally painful to read verse that was received as manufactured.

But she would always call and acknowledge the card and then the business of the holiday was done unless we opted to include a meal.

But after she hit 80, she started making it known that the cards really were a waste of money.  "Save your money and stop sending that stuff.  I know I'm your mother," she would opine.

For a while, we tried flowers, but that presented a bigger problem: she would complain about them.

Either they were too big, too expensive or they reminded her of funeral flowers.  One year she out did herself  in her call to us.

"These flowers are half dead and the water smells brackish," which was followed by "SAVE YOUR MONEY."

So eventually the flowers stopped, but the calls and the meals continued.

After her headstone was placed on her grave I planted red geraniums - her favorite - on her grave, but this year, now that we've moved, and with me being in Maryland for the first time, it will be a first that nothing got done for her grave.

When we visit later in the summer I drive back up to Marion and tend the family plot.  I will take a weed eater to trim around the head stones and brush to sweep the dried cut grass from the stones and I'll take a moment to miss her more than I do or she ever imagined.

But per her wishes, I will take no card and I will hold the flowers.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Found today: Ka-Bala and the Eye of Zohar

It's a bit like the Ouija Board, but it glows in the dark.  It combines the zodiac, roulette and tarot cards.  Its instructions tell you can play in the dark, but you'll need to turn on the room light to read the fortunes on the back of the tarot cards.  And the EYE OF ZOHAR follows the ball around the board.  Maybe this (From the Museum of Talking Boards) will help explain it:

Made by Transogram - that toy company of yore that did amazing things in very cheap breakable plastic, Ka-Bala is the type of toy that would never get made today for children.  NEVER!  Oh, Hell - can you imagine the media blood-fest One Million Moms (which only has 50,000 followers on Facebook) would have over this?  Sweet smoking Jesus, they'd be having a kniption fit!  All the more reason to own it!

Now if Ka-Bala could tell me where I can find the $100 smackeroo's to buy it, I'd hustle back to that store and get it.

Friday, May 10, 2013

We have dinner with my ex husband.

My mother and father had horrible marriage and an even worse divorce.  They battled their way through court over money, me and property.  Weekly my father would call me up and bitch about her and she would sit there and tell me that I needed to be nicer to him.

"Cookie," she would say, "he is your father."

And I would reply "and he is your ex-husband.  You know what an asshole Marvin is."

"But I," said she, "divorced him.  You can't."

To my mother and my father, divorce was something that happened to two people when the only thing that could be agreed upon was that knives would leave too much bloodshed and spoil the decor.   The idea that two people could break up, and then be civil, nay - even friends with one and other afterward - was something that neither of my parents could comprehend.

Cookie all too well remembers the phone call that he received from his mother about ten years ago when she said that she had seen the parent of a high school friend at the market.

"Mr. Cockenblocker said that Carol and her husband were divorcing because they were better "friends" than husband and wife.  What kind of idiotic nonsense is that?"

"Well," said I, "Maybe they want more out of life."

"Of all the asinine things," Mother harrumphed.

Then there were all of Cookie's father's subsequent divorces after father divorced mother.  All of them a three ring circus of vitriol, hate, moving vans and the old neighbors calling our house with the news that moving vans were seen.

"Picking up or dropping off?" my mother would ask.

For as much animosity as they had for one and other, he never could find the "one" and she never remarried until after she attended the funeral.

But hate is not the opposite of love.  No, where love is concerned apathy is opposite.  This lead me to at least suspect that for as much as they wanted to kill each other, my parents had some feeling of love gone sour for one and other.

Years and years ago, when Cookie was young and a newly minted homosexual, living in Washington, DC, I fell in love with an older man named Bob.  I was at the height of sexuality and thought he was just everything anyone would every need or want. And we fucked like bunnies and the sex was great, but it didn't work out.  He was older and had the maturity I lacked and  I was much younger than my physical age showed.  Immaturity has a way of killing off relationships.

And not that he wasn't a great guy, because he was.  But it wasn't the one for either of us.

In between this man and the love of my life, the Husband (with whom I celebrate 16 bliss filled years this coming Wednesday) there was my second husband who was a kind man, but not the man for Cookie. We were together for nine years, eleven months and two weeks when it dawned on me that I couldn't celebrate ten years when I wasn't happy.  This man took the very hard, which was what he had to do.  And he died from stomach cancer about 12 years after we broke up.  But we did eventually became friends before his death and I delivered a eulogy at his funeral that had people crying and laughing at the same time.

So, when a relationship wasn't right, I always tried to be on good terms with my ex, even when it was a real up hill struggle.

Anyway,  when we moved back east I sent a letter to Bob and said that we were moving to Charm City.  Between the move and our lives - and his - plans to get together for a meal never quite seemed to get together.

Until last night.

He is in town for a conference and would we like to meet for dinner.  I check with the husband and the plan is arranged.  I make the reservation at a good Italian restaurant - after all, who except Ethiopians doesn't love Italian food?

My friends from back home have said "What madness is this!"  But I remind them that I am now fifty, and Bob is now sixty-four, and the THIRTY years have passed, and those thirty years have been happily regret free.   And, I say to another friend from home, aren't we old enough to act like adults?

And of those thirty years that have passed, the happiest sixteen have been with The Husband, who is tall and handsome and makes me smile and laugh and feel, most importantly, loved in a way that I only thought was possible in dreams.   And our anniversary is May 15th, so I am aglow with true love.

Besides, isn't it all very civil, everyone sitting around and chatting over very good food?  And when the meal is complete and the check is brought, we promise to visit D.C., part as friends, and he to his hotel, and The Husband and I to our home, just the way it should be.

So the Rumor Goes: The grass is always much longer on the other side of the fence.

Mr. Husband and I maintain a nice lawn here at Casa d' Cookie, East - actually as nice as we can give the condition that the lot was in when we bought the house.

Instead of verdant lawn of velvet, ours is a patchy affair with many types of grass, and enough weeds to fill a garden's encyclopedia.

We are the third owners of the house, so the two previous families consisted of couples who bought young and stayed until very old.  As as things tend to do, the lawn got beyond their reach.

So last fall and this spring we fertilized, weeded and fed what was there in hopes of at least fooling ourselves that we could bring it back on our own. And now that it is May, everything is green, until the heat sets in.

We have also been clearing brush, English Ivy, violets, creeping charlie, plantain and other bothersome residents who have put down roots, everywhere.  The Creeping Charlie is the worse because nothing kills it, so you have to sit in the grass, and unweave it from the grass with your fingers until you find the tap root point then pull it.

In the Baltimore area, English Ivy is the Kudzu of choice.  People planted it as ground cover and it is everywhere.  I understand that sometime in the next couple years nurserymen expect it to be officially designated as an invasive species but the damage caused by the plant is broad and wide.  We have wrestled branches of English Ivy as thick as a child's arm from the bark of the giant elm trees that surround our house. First you sever the ivy at ground level, then you strip as much off as you can after it dies and dries. Nasty stuff.

But we are making progress, when we aren't being questioned.

When we had the roto tiller in the back yard in April, Nosy Nancy behind us, would poke her head through the hedge and ask what we were doing, and then say "You know that the guidelines say you have to have your landscaping approved by 'The Committee'!"  And we patiently point out that our neighbors were fine, it was in a back yard, and we were clearing weeds, not building landscape features.

And every time we came back with mulch, or gypsum, or manure, Nosy Nancy would poke her head through the shrubs to see what we were or were not doing.   When the husband dug the pit for the water garden, Nosy Nancy called "The Committee" on us, and I spoke with the committee and pointed out where water gardens, which hold storm water run off and allow the water to slowly penetrate into the soil instead of washing into the storm water sewers, are exempt from civic associations in Maryland if they aren't proximate to the public right of way.  In fact, Maryland is looking at giving resident tax credits for creating the swails and planting them with native plants.  Everyone wins.

But Nancy was undaunted.  "Well I could fall in that pit," which is 10" deep, "if I were walking in your back yard," she pointed out.

"Yes, you could, but what would you be doing in our back yard?" I asked.

"Well, Marley," her weazened dog, "could jump the fence if he were chasing a squirrel."  Really? The hound is so old it qualifies for social security.  But no, "Really," according to Nancy.

While all this was going on, Nosy Nancy's grass was growing and growing and growing.  In fact, she hasn't cut it yet and is well past the point of being able to stand under its own weight.   On her latest snooping ("Well, what are we planning on doing today?") I asked her how does her garden grow?

"Well, we're getting out mower blade repaired at the hardware and it should be ready any day."  That was two weeks ago.

On Monday she was all aflutter.  "Randy down the street will be cutting our yard once his mower is ready for the season!"

On Wednesday I saw her while walking the dogs and she started in on me and the mulching I had been working on and how the neighborhood association preferred hardwood mulch to pine bark chips, and blah, blah, blah.  I tried to bite my tongue, but "You know Nancy, if you put all this effort into cutting each blade of grass  in your yard by hand with nail scissors, the yard would have been cut by now," slipped out before I could stop myself.  Nancy looked at me with some disbelief.  "You, too?" says she.

Yes. Me too.

Evidently the neighborhood was by now, abuzz as well. I understand that Miriam heard from Missy who told Debbie who's son plays t-ball with Audra who lives next to someone that we'll just refer to as the "Woman in the Cream Colored House" that the "The Committee" stopped by Nancy's house Wednesday evening to have a talk with her about her yard.  Evidently, it is Nosy Nancy who has crossed the line, and the Realtor who listed the side-hall "not to be missed" colonial was getting unflattering comments from potential buyers who were concerned about the house down the street and its "condition."

So action is being taken.  So the rumor goes.

So last night, well into the wee hours we heard the chug of the lawn mower as Nosey Nancy ordered her husband Miles, a Judge, about as he tried valiantly to get her yard cut, and the engine's white noise lulled us into a deep sleep.

The husband reports this morning that the yard is haphazardly cut, so today, if the weather behaves I'll sneak over with our lawn mower and neaten it up for her.

After all, what are neighbors for.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Friday, May 3, 2013

Overheard at Walgreens

Woman one: She wa' watching some old movie when I went over.
Woman two: I hate those boring old things. She watching dem all the time and 'spect me to watch'um too.
Woman one: Something call' Splenda in the Grass.
Woman two: What it in color?
Woman one: Lemma barrow you card - yeah, it was in color.
Woman two: A least it wadden in black and white...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Stolen from Jason: What's she jamming to?

Stolen from Jason

Cookie would like to know, what tune that she is getting down to in that tunic and matching elephant bells?